Kenyan AI startup Chpter joins Safaricom’s Spark Accelerator

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Kenyan AI startup Chpter joins Safaricom’s Spark Accelerator

kenyan ai startup chpter joins safaricoms spark accelerator

Chpter, a Kenyan AI-powered social commerce startup, has joined Safaricom’s Spark Accelerator, alongside eight others. Chpter is the first key startup to join the Spark Accelerator, launched to complement the Spark Venture Fund, another Safaricom investment vehicle solely focused on backing promising Kenyan startups.

The cohort includes early-stage startups focusing on financial inclusion (Chumz, Nobuk), SME tools (Faidi HR, Churpy, Twiva), healthcare access (HealthX Africa), content creation (BlackRhino VR), and agricultural finance (VunaPay).

Co-founded by Tesh Mbaabu in 2021, Chpter’s conversational platform automates sales on WhatsApp and Instagram for businesses. Chpter’s visibility was amplified after Marketforce—founded by Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti—announced its B2B platform RejaReja’s closure in April 2024. On his blog, Mbaabu colloquially said that his focus would be on Chpter.

Mbaabu told TechCabal that while Marketforce is a shareholder in Chpter, Chpter’s operations are independent of MarketForce.

Safaricom did not reveal the accelerator’s fund deal size; however, the telco confirmed to TechCabal that the startups would go through three months of capacity building. Part of this programme will be to determine the funding size of the accelerator programme.

A spokesperson from the accelerator told TechCabal in an email, “For now, there is no cap. We want to ensure that the companies are well-equipped to succeed and are well-capitalised at the end of the programme.”

The accelerator did not reveal details about individual investment in the selected cohort,  but a tech executive with knowledge of the deal told TechCabal that startups will receive between $150K and $500K.

The Spark Accelerator will invest in the startups, primarily in debt and equity.  “We will also take any other instrument deemed appropriate,” Safaricom told TechCabal.

The Spark Aaccelerator, launched in partnership with M-PESA Africa and Sumitomo Corporation, does not replace Safaricom’s $1 million Spark Venture Fund, which the telco founded in 2014. Although the Fund was restructured in July 2023, it is still active and follows up on companies it invested in.

Its earliest beneficiaries include Sendy, a logistics startup now under administration; agritech startup iProcure, also under administration; customer experience platform Ajua; and mobile surveys startup mSurvey.

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